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New bill aims to expand student participation on school boards

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)–In New York State, a student representative is authorized to sit on a school board. But if a recently passed bill is signed, it would become a requirement for all school districts and BOCES.

“Obviously the student wouldn’t be able to vote,” explained Senator Shelley Mayer, the Senate’s Education Chair. “The student wouldn’t be able to go into the executive sessions about personnel or any of the things appropriately confidential. But a student would be able to talk about the experience of students, which frankly, some board members don’t hear enough.”

Mayer said it’s a great way for students to learn about civics.

“For us, it’s the July 4th weekend. We’re talking about how important our democracy is. And part of our democracy is people getting engaged, learning how to speak, learning how to listen, learning how to agree and disagree respectfully. Learning how to find solutions. This is part of that process— giving student and adults an opportunity to hear each other out.”

Getting kids involved is something the NYS School Board Association can get behind—building on something that’s already happening in many districts.

“The underlying purpose we absolutely are supportive of,” said Jay Worona, Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel, NYSSBA. “It’s about civics, it’s about teaching democracy, and getting kids involved in that whole process. There is no conceptual problems we have with this legislation.”

He explained how would a student be chosen under this bill.

“The school board or the BOCES board— the Board of Cooperative Educational Services, would come up with a process for how they are going to make that happen,” said Worona. “To your question, for the BOCES boards depending on how many component districts there are within that BOCES equation, there would be multiple students. There could be as many as 3 students who would be representing a BOCES if it’s large enough.”

For other districts, they would need to designate least one student.

The bill has yet to be delivered to Governor Hochul.



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